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The OARacle Newsletter

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in mid-December that it would invest more than $20 million over four years to continue tracking autism prevalence and characteristics at the nine sites in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network and launch one new site in Puerto Rico. According to the latest data from the ADDM Network taken in 2018, about 1 in 44 children has been identified with autism.

The Network is the “only collaborative network to monitor the number and characteristics of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities in multiple communities throughout the United States,” according to the CDC website. The sites track autism among 4- and 8-year-old children to inform public health strategies and improve early identification of autism by providing timely information on evaluation and diagnostic patterns.

Four of the sites also track transition planning and co-occurring conditions among 16-year-olds, who were first tracked when they were eight. Tracking adolescents provides valuable information on transition planning in special education services and the planned trajectory for post-high school years. It also adds to the information that can guide public health strategies to improve identification of and services for autistic children and youth.

The Network has monitored and reported on autism among 8-year-old children since 2000. In 2010, the Network added a supplemental program tracking autism in 4-year-old children across select sites. That addition allows the Network to compare autism prevalence and characteristics at different ages among children in a single birth cohort.

Funded Sites Tracks Children Ages:
Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 4, 8, and 16 years
Johns Hopkins University 4, 8, and 16 years
Puerto Rico Department of Health 4 and 8 years
Regents of the University of Minnesota 4 and 8 years
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences 4 and 8 years
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences 4, 8, and 16 years
University of California, San Diego 4 and 8 years
University of Utah 4, 8, and 16 years
Vanderbilt University Medical Center 4 and 8 years
Washington University in St. Louis 4 and 8 years


In addition to those 10 funded sites, the CDC manages the Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP), which conducts autism surveillance activities among 4-, 8-, and 16-year-old children. The sites will be the same for 2024, according to the information posted by the CDC on ADDM Network page.

Sherri Alms is the freelance editor of The OARacle, a role she took on in 2007. She has been a freelance writer and editor for more than 20 years.